Milwaukee County Supervisor David F. Bowen this week criticized a bill proposed by Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, which would prohibit Milwaukee County from enacting a “living wage” ordinance, saying it is an “attack on the working poor.”
The bill, Assembly Bill 750, would restrict any city, village, town or county from establishing a living wage ordinance.
The Milwaukee County Board passed a living wage ordinance last week that would establish a living wage of $11.32 an hour for employees of businesses that have contracts with the County. The ordinance was sponsored by Bowen.
“This is an outrageous attack on the working poor that will keep workers in Milwaukee County in poverty,” Bowen said.
“This is as much an attack on the working poor as it is on local control for all municipalities in Wisconsin.”
Bowen pointed out several municipalities in Wisconsin, including the City of Madison, Dane County and the City of Milwaukee already have minimum wage standards above that of the federal minimum wage.
He added that about 140 municipalities in the United States already have living wage standards.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.50, but President Obama recently issued an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.10.
“We cannot wait for the federal government or the state government to pass an increase in the minimum wage. The time is now for a living wage,” Bowen said.
“Paying a living wage is the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, and the sensible thing to do.
“Allowing workers to make poverty wages with government funds is not only wrong, it is a drag on the local economy as those workers are forced to rely on the County’s social services to pay their bills.
When you provide workers with a living wage, it puts more money in their pockets and lifts the economy.” Bowen called the bill an overreach and said it should be rejected by the Legislature.